Leicester City announced the signing of Patson Daka from Red Bull Salzburg at the end of June, with the 22-year-old forward priced up at £7.5m by Fantasy Premier League (FPL).
After a reported £23m deal was agreed with the Austrian club, Daka signed a five-year contract at the King Power Stadium and will enjoy a full pre-season under Brendan Rodgers.
The Zambia international will provide competition for the identically priced Kelechi Iheanacho (£7.5m) and veteran Jamie Vardy (£10.5m), with his arrival a concern for those Fantasy managers planning to start the season with either player.
We’ll run the rule over Daka in this piece but don’t forget that you can find reams of Opta player and team data on Vardy, Iheanacho and the Foxes in our Premium Members Area, with the Player Comparison Tool – as shown below (click to expand) – a handy way of pitting two assets head to head.
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Having come up through the ranks in his home country, Daka secured a five-year deal at Salzburg after impressing during a trial period in Austria in 2017. He had previously made his senior Zambia debut in 2015, at the age of just 16.
The attacker made his full breakthrough into the Salzburg first-team set-up during the 2019/20 season, when he made 31 league appearances as well as playing all six Champions League group stage ties.
That was also the start of two prolific scoring seasons for the Zambian. In his breakthrough year, Daka netted 24 times and notched eight assists over those 31 showings. That equated to scoring once every 78 minutes.
He managed to improve that ratio last season, logging a goal every 72 minutes over 28 league appearances. Along with 27 strikes, he also provided seven assists. Daka ended the campaign as the top scorer in the Austrian Bundesliga and was named the league’s player of the season.
Daka himself aspires to make the kind of impact that other African stars have had on the Premier League:
“To see our big brothers like (Pierre-Emerick) Aubameyang, (Mohamed) Salah, (Sadio) Mane, it’s something that gives me the dream that I can also make it. I can be like them. They are my inspiration, knowing that they also come from Africa. I think when people are making those kind of comparisons, it’s great; looking at the status of Sadio Mane, the kind of football he plays and the kind of person that he is.” – Daka speaking to BBC in January
Milutin Sredejovic, the Zambia national team coach, continues the Mane comparison while likening Daka to the outstanding Samuel Eto’o:
“I would say he’s on the road to replace what Samuel Eto’o once was in representing Africa and African football. He could be compared to Sadio Mane or Samuel Eto’o, with the level of skill and speed that he has. With the sense for space, sense of positioning, in the right place at the right time.” – Milutin Sredejovic
Sredejovic will be hoping that Leicester City proves to be the right place for Daka to develop:
“Knowing his heart, mind and soul, I’m fully convinced that he’s on a very good road to reach his full potential. I believe he has everything that it takes. Now the other factors are important; to choose the right environment where he could excel that would suit his potential.” – Milutin Sredejovic
The striker is known for his explosive pace and cold-bloodedness in front of goal. His former strike partner, one Erling Haaland, gives Daka inspiration for making the grade at a higher level:
“(Haaland’s success is) a very great inspiration because I remember very well that different people used to say, ‘Erling can only score in Austria’, and people think the Austrian league is not really competitive. But I think every competition has its own level. I think it has been proven. Look at the likes of Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and (Takumi) Minamino – a lot of players that have played here really excelled.” – Patson Daka
Across all competitions last season, Daka scored 34 times in 42 appearances while racking up 12 assists.
Having played 2,905 minutes, the forward registered a goal contribution every 66 minutes. That was just better than his ratio of 68 minutes during the 2019/20 campaign.
In the Austrian Bundesliga, he returned 1.44 goals plus assists per 90 in 2019/20, with a figure of 1.43 in 2020/21.
Daka’s shots per 90 minutes figures for the two seasons were 4.23 and 4.66, while his numbers per 90 for shots on target were 2.31 and 2.21.
Those figures stack up very well to the leading FPL forwards of last season but it’s always worth bearing in mind the sizeable gulf in class between the respective divisions.
Above: FPL forwards sorted by shots per 90 minutes in 2020/21 (minimum five apps)
Considering Daka’s style of play, it seems likely that the pacy forward is a long-term replacement for Jamie Vardy.
“What he’s doing, everyone is seeing he’s scoring for fun. His biggest strength is his pace. He uses it very well. We are seeing him develop into a good striker, with the strength, pace, and a great conversion rate.” Zambia international Larry Bwalya
But whether that scenario will immediately play out in Brendan Rodgers’ line-up is anyone’s guess. Vardy may be 34 but undoubtedly still has a big part to play at Leicester, so it could be that Daka is forced to bide his time in the opening few weeks of 2021/22.
The nightmare scenario from an FPL perspective is that Rodgers eventually rotates his three strikers around two spots – or even worse, just one.
The likely return to fitness of Harvey Barnes (£7.0m) will throw another spanner into the Leicester line-up works, with the winger previously excelling in a 4-1-4-1 system before his injury.
Daka will undoubtedly have an impact on Leicester assets, particularly Vardy and Iheanacho. How much of an impact and how early in the campaign it begins are questions for pre-season and the opening Gameweeks of the campaign.
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